‘‘I’M happy to go in there and start shovelling out the pigeon poo myself,’’ said noted Newcastle historian and university archivist Gionni Di Gravio.
Such is the passion for Newcastle’s historic post office building. But the building’s condition means that he’d be lucky to get through the door without it collapsing under him.
‘‘Newcastle cares nothing for its history, and this is the result,’’ he said. ‘‘It isn’t pretty. All we really care about is money, and that shapes all our thinking.
‘‘There is too much bickering and not enough being done,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s so sad to see it come to this. It’s almost at the point where we need a working bee. I know people would want to help, but we can’t do anything until the roof is repaired.’’
Historian Ann Hardy from the National Trust’s Hunter branch said people should ‘‘stop laying blame on one group’’.
‘‘This has been going on for 15 years,’’ she said. ‘‘People love that building but no one is taking the lead in looking after it. The history belongs to all of us. People getting in there and making a start on the clean-up would be good. It would be a symbol of our community and how we can unite.’’
Newcastle councillor Brad Luke holds ‘‘very grave fears’’ about its future.
‘‘Awabakal has said before that they had the money to fix it,’’ he said. ‘‘They pay nothing in rates to council so I’d have a great deal of trouble handing over ratepayer money to help fix what is essentially a private property.’’
Cr Andrea Rufo said the building was ‘‘significant in the life of Australia, not just Newcastle’’. ‘‘The Aboriginal community went to court and got it, and now they’re not doing anything to protect it or use it.
‘‘Even if Awabakal came up with the money to repair it and bring it back to a workable site, where would the millions of dollars needed to maintain it come from?’’